Boldly flavored kebabs, buttery, phyllo-encased pastries and succulent dips await at a small South Beach eatery a block from the ocean. Turkish owner Bulent Yeter calls his food Mediterranean, but his dishes would please a sultan. There are kofte kebabs made from ground beef laced with spices, gyros carved from a rotating spit of lamb and beef, and falafel made from chickpeas ground with garlic, celery, red peppers and parsley, fried until crispy and plated with lemony hummus and smoky baba ghanoush along with sandwiches and wraps.
Yeter is from Adana in southeast Turkey and worked at his uncle’s restaurant in Istanbul. He cooked at several South Florida restaurants before opening on Miami Beach four months ago with partner Ahmed Demir, a longtime Turkish friend. They named Romelia for a castle fortress on the Gallipoli Peninsula that separates Asian Turkey (Anatolia) from European Turkey (Thrace).
Start with grape leaves stuffed with herbed rice, pine nuts, and currants, oval-shaped lentil and couscous fritters or coban (shepherd’s salad), a fine dice of tomatoes, cucumber, onions, hot spices and bell peppers dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. Meats and roasted veggies here are marinated in mixtures of dill, mint, oregano, thyme, cumin, crushed red pepper, black pepper and coriander. Try a skewer of grilled eggplant slices threaded with meatballs or the signature Adana kebab made with seasoned ground lamb and beef with red peppers.
End with house-made pistachio baklava or kadayif made from a nest of fine pastry shreds enclosing cream cheese. Afiyet olsun! (To your health!)